Blaze of Memory (Psy-Changeling 7) - Page 2

Glen shook his head. "No way she had the coordination to get through security then - she'd have lost her fine motor skills well beforehand."

Fighting the rush of anger provoked by the thought of how helpless she must've felt, what might've been done to her in that time, Dev glanced back into the room. The bright white overhead light glinted off her matted blonde hair, highlighting the scratches on the face, the sharp bones slicing her skin. "She looks half-starved."

Glen's usually smiling face was a grim mask. "We haven't had the opportunity to do a full checkup but there are bruises on her arms, her legs."

"You telling me she was beaten?" Raw fury pulsed through Dev's body, hot and violent.

"Tortured would be the word I'd use. There are old bruises beneath the new ones."

Dev swore under his breath. "How long before she's functional?"

"It'll probably take forty-eight hours to flush the drugs out completely. I think it was a one-time hit. If she'd been on them longer, she'd have been even more messed up."

"Keep me updated."

"Are you going to call Enforcement?"

"No." Dev had no intention of letting her out of his sight. "She was dumped in front of my door for a reason. She stays with us until we figure out what the hell is going on."

"Dev . . ." Glen blew out a breath. "Her reaction to the drugs says she has to be Psy."

"I know." His own psychic senses had picked up an "echo" from the woman. Muted but there. "She's not a threat at this stage. We'll reassess the situation after she's up and around."

Something beeped inside the room, making Glen glance at his chart. "It's nothing. Don't you have a meeting with Talin this morning?"

Taking the hint, Dev drove home to shower and change. It was just ticking over six thirty when he walked back into the building that housed the headquarters of the Shine Foundation. Though the top four floors were sectioned into a number of guest apartments, the middle ten were taken up with various administration offices, while the floors below the basement housed the testing and medical facilities. And today - a Psy. A woman who might turn out to be the latest move in the Council's attempts to destroy the Forgotten.

But, he reminded himself, right now she was asleep and he had work to do. "Activate. Voice code - Devraj Santos." The clear screen of his computer slid up and out of his desk, showing a number of unread messages. His secretary, Maggie, was good at weeding out the "can-waits" from the "must-responds" and all ten on-screen fell into the latter category - and today hadn't yet begun. Leaning back in his chair, he glanced at his watch.

Too early to return the calls - even in New York, most people weren't at their desks by six forty-five. Then again, most people didn't run the Shine Foundation, much less act as the head of a "family" of thousands scattered across the country, and in many cases, the world.

It was inevitable he'd think of Marty at that moment.

"This job," his predecessor had said the night Dev accepted the directorship, "will eat up your life, suck the marrow from your bones for good measure, and spit you out on the other end, a dry husk."

"You stuck to it." Marty had run Shine for over forty years.

"I was lucky," the older man had said in that blunt, no-nonsense way of his. "I was married when I took the job, and to my eternal gratitude, my wife stayed with me through all the shit. You go in alone, you'll end up staying that way."

Dev could still remember how he'd laughed. "What, you have a very low opinion of my charm?"

"Charm all you like," Marty had said with a snort, "but women have a way of wanting time. The director of the Shine Foundation doesn't have time. All he has is the weight of thousands of dreams and hopes and fears resting on his shoulders." A glance filled with shadows. "It'll change you, Dev, turn you cruel if you're not careful."

"We're a stable unit now," Dev had argued. "The past is past."

"Dear boy, the past will never be past. We're in a war, and as director, you're the general."

It had taken Dev three years into the job before he'd truly understood Marty's warning. When his ancestors had defected from the PsyNet, they'd hoped to make a life outside the cold rigidity of Silence. They'd chosen chaos over control, the dangers of emotion over the certain sanity of a life lived without hope, without love, without joy. But with those choices had come consequences.

The Psy Council had never stopped hunting the Forgotten.

To fight back, to keep his people safe, Dev had had to make some brutal choices of his own.

His fingers curled around the pen in his grip, threatening to crush it. "Enough," he muttered, glancing at his watch again. Still too early to call.

Pushing back his chair, he got up, intending to grab some coffee. Instead, he found himself taking the elevator down to the subbasement level. The corridors were quiet, but he knew the labs would already be humming with activity - the workload was simply too big to allow for much downtime.

Because while the Forgotten had once been as Psy as those who looked to the Council for leadership, time and intermarriage with the other races had changed things in their genetic structure. Strange new abilities had begun to appear . . . but so had strange new diseases.

But that wasn't the threat he had to assess today.

If they were right, the unknown woman in the hospital bed in front of him was linked to the PsyNet itself. That made her beyond dangerous - a Trojan horse, her mind used as a conduit through which to siphon data or implement deadly strategies.